I spent 3 1/2 years at an amazing church while I was at Covenant College. This was written by an amazing cook, but more importantly an honest, sincere, down to earth, godly woman. I miss my sweet church up on the mountain, and I miss dear Jane Henegar. This writing quite often leaves me speechless. I long to adopt this attitude towards cooking!
Why Cook?I cook because I was cooked for by a woman, to the last days of her seventh decade propped her elbow on the kitchen counter and leaned into her craft--divinity, say, that was almost divine.
I cook because the kitchen table was the center of the house--the place where my friends solved their problems with my mother's help while enjoying her cooking, where the aroma of fried chicken and hot biscuits and mint tea and peach cobbler and, of course, Kool cigarettes, announced the woman who welcomed you within.
I cook because, for good or for ill, I learned by example that if you love somebody, you fill them up. I cook because I love somebody...many bodies. I cook some more because some of those I love say "that was delicious" often enough to spur me on.
I cook because I married a man whose mother had the same culinary stature as mine...a woman who loved to quote this familial proverb: "I have often regretted my economies, but never my extravagances," and who served halves of honeydew, bacon, eggs, and oatmeal with whipping cream every morning.
But I cook my own way because I wouldn't dare attempt their ways: only a magician attempts such magic.
If I had my 34 years of womanning a kitchen to do over again, I would serve more sandwiches and fewer food groups. There would be plenteous soup and real homemade bread--like our daughter Emily makes--and more salads and nuts and just plain fruit. There would be more shared dishwashing. There would me more salt and lemon juice--the non-negotiables that elevate any dish--and olive oil and garlic and meatless meals.
I would spend less time over the stove and more time sitting down, not talking but listening to those for whom I want to care. When company came, it would be oftener for small groups and simpler meals; I would not cook to startle or amaze them, but mainly to enjoy their company.
I would treat my family more like company and my company more like family.
I would continue to delight in counting the place mats and beholding the prepared table when homecomings were imminent. And when the place mats were sauced-spattered and the table was groaning, I would delight some more.
I would cook food that linked us to each of those we had loved and lost, and around the table we would talk about those people, and remember, and laugh, and give thanks.
I would long to be remembered, in days long past my own, by those who once ate at our table, for growing simpler and more generous...more Godward...as the days increased.
If I had to do it over again, I would remember that grace is the best part of every meal, that grace is the best part of every life, and that it is no accident that the followers of the risen Jesus finally recognized Him "in the breaking of the bread"...and that all of human history will be culminated with a marriage feast. I would look forward to being not the hostess, but the guest, and in never having to say good-bye to those with whom I shared the ultimate feast.
by Jane Henegar